2015 ~ The Year Of The Sheep

And as a knitter, I couldn’t let the start of the the Chinese New Year go unmarked, especially when 2015 is the Year of the Sheep.

This coincided with a beautiful article last week on the BBC Website about a new exhibition that opened last weekend at the Rheged Centre in Penrith in the English Lake District.   Titled Herdwick: A Portrait of Lakeland by renowned photographer Ian Lawson who spent five years documenting the sheep, the shepherds and the landscape, and the results are captured in his stunning photographs and book upon which the exhibition is based. You can see more of his photos from this project here, there is a “Look Inside” link which you really must click to see more of the intense beauty of this part of England, Andrew and I’s most favourite, and most missed, part of the world.

The Herdwick breed is native to the Fells of The Lakes and while it’s lambing capacity is low and the wool is much rougher than commercial breeds (like Merino), the Herdwick is prized for it’s robust health, the ability to survive by just foraging and it’s tendency not to stray.   The wool is of a thicker, courser quality and is really good for heavyweight outer garments and for things like rugs, it’s not something to be worn next to the skin, unless you’re a sheep of course, as they’ve been known to survive up to three days in a blizzard completely buried in snow, by eating their own wool.

It’s thought that as much as 99% of the world’s Herdwick’s live in the rugged West and North of The Lakes, and they have now achieved protected status.  They’re not exactly rare, as anyone who has ever walked the hills of this beautiful area of England will tell you, but because their population is all but concentrated in one area they could be decimated by an outbreak of a disease, like the foot and mouth epidemic of a few years ago, which led to the farmers loosing 25% of the 100,000 breed.

This shepherd is walking his flock towards Wast Water in front of him.  Behind him is the imposing bulk of Great Gable, part of the Scafell range which is the highest mountain in England.  We didn’t do too much fell walking in The Western Lakes but Andrew and I have climbed both Great and Green Gable before, Andrew more than once.

Arguably, the most famous of the Herdwick farmers was Beatrix Potter.  Better known for her beautifully illustrated children’s books, she spent a great deal of her life in this area of England, the latter part as a farmer with fifteen farms, and a breeder and protector of Herdwick sheep.  She won numerous prizes at country shows between 1930 and 1938, and upon her death in 1943 left all fifteen of her farms to The National Trust, and per her instructions, all of them continue to graze Herdwick’s today.

So in this, the Year of the Sheep, I encourage you to get your needles out and knit something, or if you’ve never knit before perhaps now is the time to consider taking up the hobby?  But if that’s too much for you to take on right now, you can always show your support of this terrific breed by supporting The Herdy online and physical shops.  I’m particularly fond of the Peep Mug and will be making room in my suitcase for at least one later in the year!  Click on the logo to be taken to their website.

N.B. – Photos copyright Ian Lawson ~ Herdy Logo TM The Herdy Company

Just Chillin’

Cross country skiing in Mayberry Park on Saturday, waiting for Andrew who decided to add an extra loop, whereas I knew how I’d be feeling the next day if I added even one extra foot to my normal circuit!

Perching my derriere on a picnic bench in the sunshine.

The temperature we woke up to on Sunday morning…

Ice on the inside of the bathroom windows on Sunday morning.  We had ice on practically all of the windows, it was a bit of an overwhelming kind of cold…

The forecast for Sunday and also for Monday…

But my feet are toasty warm in my new furry slipper booties….

The only problem is, Andrew now wants a pair too!

Sparkles Monthly Challenge – Something For The Boys

We’re back at Sparkles Monthly Challenge today with a fab new theme picked for us by the sweet and delightful Rebecca.  She wants us to make Something For The Boys, so I took the opportunity to make my Father’s Day card ahead of time.

Before I show you that though I have to tell you about are very wonderful sponsors for this month.  We have two again, Shaz really has been working hard behind the scenes this year to bring you extra chances to win.

First up is Dry Gulch Beads & Jewelry, a bead and finding store that carries a great selection of filigrees, glue-ons and charms for your paper crafting projects.

And our second sponsor is Crafty Sentiments Designs with a prize of three digis.  Crafty Sentiments Designs is an online based family company owned and run by Suzette, the images are cute fun and make any cards and projects look amazing.

So, on to my card.  I used Penny Black’s cute cling stamp called Fly Away.  He was coloured, quite traditionally, with Prisma pencils, and not a hint of glitter or Stickles in sight either!

The papers are from My Mind’s Eye Lost & Found 3.  They were edged with Tim Holtz DI in Frayed Burlap, as was the image.  The brown and blue card both came from the scrap box and is from The Paper Company.  The sentiment was generated on the computer.

The stars are cut from a new cut and emboss die set from Hobby Lobby.  The one on the image is embossed, the others are just die cuts, I added a few pearls to finish it off.

I hope you can join us at Sparkles this month, and please pop over to the main bog for lots more male inspired inspiration.

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Challenges:

Allsorts ~ Any Occasion Other Than Birthday

Penny Black & More At Allsorts ~ Anything Goes (3rd entry)

Pixies Snippets Playground ~ Use Up Your Scraps (the brown and blue card)

Sister Act Card Challenge ~ Anything Goes

Crafty Hazel’s Patterned Paper Challenge ~ Anything Goes

Simply Create Too ~ Anything Goes

Crafty Calendar Challenge ~ Anything Goes

Wags ‘n’ Whiskers ~ For Someone You Love

Simon Says Wednesday Challenge ~ All Creatures Great & Small

Crafty Catz ~ For The Boys

Mid-Month Reminder At Crafty Hazel’s Christmas Extra

Hello All – Middle of February already!  This means that I’m back with my mid-month reminder card for you for for Crafty Hazel’s Christmas Extra Challenge.  We’re sponsored, as always, by the very generous Bugaboo Stamps, who have a $21 voucher for the lucky winner.

The DT don’t have to use Bugaboo images for the mid-month post, so I elected to use my Penny Black stamps again.  Both the image and the text are from the clear set The Wonder.

I went with a clean and simple LO, embossing the white card with a Darice snowflake folder and then cutting out the circle with a Spellbinders scalloped die.  The opening was backed with a scrap of My Minds Eye glitter paper from a couple of years ago.  The ribbon was added and then the red scrap card was punched with a Martha Stewart border punch, added to the panel and stuck to the card blank.

The image was stamped in Memento Tuxedo Black ink and coloured with Prisma Pencils.  Crystal Stickles was added to the green garland and the stars on the stocking on the right.  I used a McGill tag punch, stamped he sentiment in Versamagic Red Magic ink and tied it on with more red ribbon.

I hope you find the time to join in with us this month, we’re always an Anything Goes Christmas Challenge, and you know you’ll be happy you did come December!!

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Challenges:

Pixies Snippets Playground ~ Use Up Your Scraps (The red card and the DP)

Allsorts ~ Any Occasion Other Than A Birthday

Penny Black & More At Allsorts ~ Anything Goes

Sister Act Card Challenge ~ Anything Goes

Crafty Hazel’s Patterned Paper Challenge ~ Anything Goes

 Christmas Stamping All Year Long ~ Anything Goes

When Is A Valentine Card Not A Valentine Card?

When it’s a Birthday Card of course!  I couldn’t decide which way I was going to go with this one but my birthday card box is still mostly empty so that made my decision for me.

I liked the sketch at Sketch Saturday very much this week, and by combining it with both Penny Black Saturday Challenge and the current Cuttlebug Mania challenge requiring “hearts”, I came up with this.

The pretty pink heart paper is a digi download from Raspberry Road, the dotty vertical piece is an unknown scrap and the large solid backing piece has the look of slightly flocked, hand made paper and is from The Paper Company.  Everything was edged with Distress Ink Festive Berries.

The focal image is a Penny Black Stickeroo from the Hearts and Flowers sheet.  I stuck it to some scrap white paper, to give it a bit more strength, and die cut it with a Spellbinders Small Scalloped die, using the next half size scalloped die from the matching Large Scalloped die set to cut the solid pink piece.  This was mounted on to a larger solid circle Spellbinder die cut from a scrap of Pink Petticoat spotty paper.

The sticky gems in the middle started off life as a little hand done flourish that morphed into a lopsided heart and ended up as, what looks like, half of a butterfly!  I’m calling it a design feature and leaving it at that!

The sentiment is made up of various pieces from an Inkadinkado clear set called Sending Wishes, it’s stamped in ColorBox Wicked Black that has been used so much it’s faded to a wonderful dark grey.

The heart is a Fiskars punch and is actually much more pink that the camera thinks it is.  It certainly isn’t red!

 

Card Recipe:

  • Card: 4.75″ square blank from a UK craft show ~ GinaK Luxury White scraps
  • DP: The Paper Company solid pink scraps ~ Pink Petticoat scrap ~ Raspberry Road offcut ~ Unknown darker pink strip, probaby DCWV
  • Ink: Distress Ink Festive Berries ~ ColorBox Q Wicked Black
  • Stamp: Inkadinkado Sending Wishes set
  • Embellies: Penny Black Hearts & Flowers Stickeroo ~ Gems from Michaels
  • Tools: Cuttlebug ~ Spellbinders Small & Large Scalloped Circle Dies ~ Spellbinders Large Circle Dies ~ Fiskars Punch

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Challenges:

Cuttlebug Mania ~ I Heart You

Penny Black Saturday Challenge ~ Hearts

Penny Black and More At Allsorts ~ Anything Goes

Sketch Saturday ~ Current Sketch

Pixies Snippets Playground ~ Use Up Your Scraps (It’s all scraps apart from the card blank and the PB Sticker!)

Papertake Weekly ~ Hearts and Flowers

 Sister Act Card Challenge ~ Anything Goes

Crafty Hazel’s Patterned Paper Challenge ~ Anything Goes

Allsorts – Love

Wags ‘n’ Whiskers ~ For Someone You Love

Buckwell’s Crafty Challenge ~ Love/Red

Crafty Calender Challenge ~ Anything Goes

Simply Create Too ~ Valentine’s Day of Use Hearts

This Week I’m…

…Digging out from Winter Storm Linus which brought us 16.7″ of snow to start the week with.  I stayed at home and worked on Monday, before digging out the driveway and paths and then digging out my neighbour’s son and his car after he got himself completely stuck at the entrance to our street.

…Staying indoors and working on my new socks, Alluvial Deposits:

And casting on yet more socks, like you do.  These are another of the Harry Potter themed socks that I told myself last Summer I would knit more of, 7 months later here are “Socks For The Deputy Headmistress”.  Or as I called my project on Ravelry “Socks For Sheer Dumb Luck” taken from one of Minnerva McGonagill’s quotes from the first HP book and film, which I can still hear ringing around my head.

…Trying to keep warm.  I need more socks because we’re back in the deep freeze, so I’m also not spending a great deal of time outside at the moment.  All my hand knits are coming in useful right now though, especially at 6:30am when I leave my house for the drive to work.  This was the temperature earlier today, after it had warmed up a few degrees.

…Looking forward to the weekend after a seriously stressy week at work that involved a lot of forward budget planning that had to be re-done all over again after I noticed that Accounting had given us starting figures that were a year out of date; and two license servers that decided to have hard disk failures a day apart from each other that left me scrambling to get them back on line and minimize the impact to the users.  But there’s always someone who complains…. and then emails GM level managers to bitch and complain some more.

Still, there’s always next week…

Sparkles Christmas Forum ~ 4th Anniversary ~ Let’s Party

Hello and welcome to February!  We greet this month with a Winter storm warning for more than a foot of snow where I live, still, should make really good crafting weather!

It’s our 4th Anniversary at Sparkles Christmas Challenge this month and Shaz has picked a theme of “Let’s Party” for this one.  You can interpret as you wish and there are some great cards from my team mates if you need any inspiration.

We have two fantastic sponsors joining us for this challenge.  First up is the delightful Bugaboo with a gift voucher for the winner to spend at their store.

And the second generous sponsor is the wonderful Crafty Ribbons who also have a voucher for the lucky winner to spend in their store.

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For my card I invited the sweet little James With Cracker from LOTV to my party!  There should be a pretty big bang from his cracker looking at the size of it!!  Always a fun thing to have at parties.

The image was stamped in Momento Tuxedo Black and coloured with Prisma pencils along with Crystal Stickles and Scattered Straw Distress Stickles; he was then mounted on to green card.

The paper is a large off cut from Stampin Up and it too was mounted on to green card.  The sentiment is from See-D’s, stamped with Memento Rhubarb Stalk and mounted on to scrap red card.

The snowflakes and little star embellies were all sitting at the back of my desk, either cut for different projects and not used or off cuts from border punches, I tend to keep everything I die cut as you never know when a project will come along where you can use them up.

The LO is Sketch number 252 from Sketch Saturday.

Pop over to the main Sparkles Christmas blog, there’s a wealth of inspiration for you this month, and I hope to see your lovely makes.  Chin chin!

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Challenges:

Sketch Saturday ~ Pick A LO (I used sketch 252)

Crafty Hazel’s Christmas Challenge ~ B For Bear wearing a Bobble Hat

Crafty Hazel’s Christmas Extra Challenge ~ Anything Goes

Crafty Hazel’s Patterned Paper Challenge ~ Anything Goes

Sister Act Card Challenge ~ Anything Goes

Winter Wonderland ~ Lots of Layers

 

Crafty Hazel’s Christmas Extra For February

So that’s January over and done with then!  Whoosh, along comes February, at the rate this year is going you’ll be happy you joined in with us at Crafty Hazel’s Christmas Extra Challenge, you need to get your Crimbo cards made you know!

As always, we’re an anything goes challenge and as always we’re sponsored by the fab Jodi at Bugaboo with a $21 voucher for the winner to spend in the Bugaboo store.

I’ve used the super cute Stocking Mouse from Bugaboo for my card and as it looks like a little country mouse to me I’ve paired it with a quilted background made from punched squares of Die Cuts With A View Christmas papers from the scraps pile.

I mounted the square scraps on to kraft card after first edging with Frayed Burlap Distress Ink, this was then mounted on the red card and finally green card that had been put through a Fiskars paper crimper.  I didn’t add a sentiment as the Christmas text on two of the little squares is exposed enough to be read.

The image was coloured with Prisma pencils, edged with the Frayed Burlap ink and mounted on to red and kraft card.  A couple of little pearls finishes it off.  The lovely bow is the only other embellishment used.  It’s made with a Bow Easy and the ribbon itself was recycled from a birthday gift from last year.

Please pop over to the challenge blog to see the wonderful creations from my uber talented teamies, and I hope you have time to join in this month.

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Challenges:

Crafty Hazel’s Christmas Challenge ~ Something beginning with “B” (Bow and as EVERY piece of card and paper used came from the scrap box I’m going with “Bits and Bobs” too!)

Pixies Snippets Playground ~ Use Up Your Scraps (It’s all scraps apart from the card blank)

Crafty Hazel’s Patterned Paper Challenge ~ Anything Goes

Sister Act Card Challenge ~ Anything Goes

Winter Wonderland ~ Lots of Layers

ABC Christmas Challenge ~ B is for Bows, Baking or Bunting

 

It’s A Knitting Wednesday For Me

Short and sweet today as you catch me on the run, but at least I have pretty new socks to run about in!!

 

 

And naturally, the second I had free needles I cast on for the next pair of socks!  This one is called Alluvial Deposits and it’s by the same chap who wrote the pattern for the purple, cabled socks I made towards the end of last year that you all liked so much.  They’re already proving tricksy as I’ve dropped stitches twice and I haven’t even done three rows in pattern yet!!!

As always, head over to Julia’s for all the details on linking up with What’s On Your Workdesk Wednesday.

Top Of The List Of Things I NEVER Want To Witness Ever Again

This has to be pretty close to the top, maybe No1.  This was 500ft off my back deck last night (Saturday 24th Jan).  These first three photos were taken standing on the deck.

We live just off a busy road, it’s the main drag for the Police, Fire and Ambulance departments, and there is a freeway entrance/exit just 2 miles East of us too so we’re used to hearing the sirens screaming down the road.  Last night from about 8:30pm we heard the sirens and it sounded close, then we heard more sirens and then more still.  There was a lot of noise behind us, people yelling and what sounded like a large generator running so we looked outside to see what the heck was going on, only to see one of the buildings of the apartment complex directly behind us was completely engulfed in flames.  I think it’s the most shocking thing I’ve seen in my life and I felt sick to my stomach for a few minutes.  This was quite literally in my own back yard.

We stood in our garden with our neighbours and some people from down the street, and were then joined by complete strangers who drove into our sub to see what was happening as the main road outside was completely blocked off by the emergency depts, and they were at a standstill.  We went down through the trees to get these photos but didn’t stay long, it was too distressing.

There are 16 apartments in that building, 12 of them were occupied.  Luckily there were no injuries, but there are some pets that are not accounted for and have most likely perished, although our neighbours told us that they saw the firefighters coming out of the building before it was completely engulfed with pets and a couple of small animals in a cage.

This morning it looks like this.

The entire back of our house overlooks this devastation, our family room, breakfast area, kitchen and dining room are all at the back on the ground floor, and as there are no leaves currently on the trees we can’t help but see it.  Upstairs, our bathroom and the bedroom I use as my craft room also overlook it, so it doesn’t matter what we do, where we go, it’s right in our face.

Andrew and I got no sleep at all last night, the last of the big fire trucks left at 3:16am, but then a large generator turned up, with a lot of workmen and the chain link fence went up around the building.  The noise and the lights made it impossible to sleep.  However, please don’t think I’ complaining, I’m acutely aware that the only thing I lost last night was a few hours of sleep.

Above you can see our house on the lower left with the black arrow, and above that to the right, is the apartment building in question.  We’re still waiting to hear what happened.

Local news report here: http://www.clickondetroit.com/news/fire-destroys-novi-apartment-building/30904956

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